Amy Bruni is the Producer of Beyond Reality Radio with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. She is also a Senior Investigator with American Paranormal Investigations based in Sacramento, California, a TAPS Family Liaison, and she’s the organizer of Northern California’s “Ghost Rush” conference.
Amy has been interested in the paranormal her whole life, but a few years ago she decided to roll up her sleeves and get more involved. Producing a popular paranormal talk show means she keeps her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the field of paranormal research through the many show guests she interacts with. Ghostvillage.com had the opportunity to ask Amy about the role of women in the paranormal.
How did you first get interested in the paranormal?
Like many in this field, I grew up in a “haunted” house and experienced some pretty strange things at a young age. My family was always very interested in the Paranormal, and very open about it, so we talked through our experiences. That support system taught me that what we were experiencing was nothing to fear. After that, I was just intensely curious — which led to me making regular trips to the library to check out books on ghosts, hauntings, UFOs, bigfoot — you name it. I’ll never forget pouring through books on Spiritualism and ghosts, and marveling over grainy ectoplasm pictures from the 1800s or famous shots like “The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall.” That was all it took.
Do you feel that because you’re a woman you have had to overcome some hurdles in your pursuit of the paranormal? If so, what were they?
I don’t feel this field is less accepting of women than any other. I definitely don’t feel like being a woman has hindered me in any way — if anything it has helped. Paranormal Investigating requires nurturing and understanding, especially when you’re dealing with families who are scared. Not to be stereotypical, but I believe women are more apt to be maternal and easy to talk to in those sorts of situations.
What unique challenges do women face in the field of paranormal research today?
There is one trend I have noticed which I’m not particularly fond of… the lack of female-led paranormal groups.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some, but I would say the majority of groups out there are started by and managed by men. I don’t know why this is the tendency, but I think there are plenty of amazing and knowledgeable women out there who are more than capable of taking on their own team.
Have you encountered certain instances during your work where you feel that being a woman has helped you in your research?
As I said before, women are better at being maternal in the face of something that can be quite confusing to some people. Many families, and children in particular, feel more comfortable approaching a woman when it comes to confiding their experiences. This also may explain why the majority of case manager positions within teams seem to be held by women.
On another note, when gathering EVP (and this is based purely on experience — I have not done any official research on this), it seems women are able to elicit more of a response. It especially seems to be that way when dealing with the ghost of a child or another woman.
What is the biggest misconception about women who are interested in paranormal research?
I think people assume we’re all women in flowing outfits, wearing crystals, burning incense, and making daily stops to the metaphysical store. While I think we do have our share of wonderful New Age-types in the field, the majority of us are not like that. I can’t count how many times people are shocked when I tell them what I do. Their response is typically, “but you look so normal.” People are getting it, but it’s taking some time, that’s for sure! The paranormal is sort of mainstream right now with the influx of ghost-related television, so in that regard, I’m sure it’s helping to lift the stereotype a bit.
As the producer of Beyond Reality Radio with Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters, you have the opportunity to book a lot of guests on various paranormal subjects. Are you seeing an increase in women who are producing books, articles, and other content for the paranormal field?
Yes, somewhat, but it still seems to be very male dominated. I find I book more women when it comes to New Age topics (not doing much for that stereotype I mentioned in the last question, right?) Of the last 35 guests I booked for the show, nine were women. Of those nine, five were related to psychic phenomena. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see those numbers change.
Do you think women are becoming more prominent in the paranormal compared to five years ago? How much is still left to be done until you think there’s truly an equal footing?
I definitely think women are coming to the forefront of the paranormal pursuit and that’s very exciting to me. Once more women in the field become comfortable branching out of the Investigator or psychic role and into leadership roles, we’ll start making even more headway. The scientific community, the media, and even skeptics are really taking notice of us now, and it’s the perfect time for women to step up and take the initiative. The paranormal community is already very progressive in its thinking and research, so getting women on equal ground shouldn’t be much of a challenge at all.
Beyond Reality Radio airs from 7-10 pm EST on Saturday nights and can be streamed live at www.beyondrealityradio.com
For information on the Ghost Rush conference, see www.ghostrush.com
Visit Amy’s myspace at www.myspace.com/ghostgirlamy.